For many Canadians, setting off fireworks is an essential part of summer. There’s nothing quite like having family and friends together, enjoying an outdoor meal, and capping off the evening with an exciting and beautiful fireworks display.
Many municipalities host their own fireworks displays on certain holidays for local residents and their guests to enjoy. But for some, a big part of the thrill and excitement of fireworks is the act of setting them off themselves, on their own timeline and property.
While fireworks can turn a summer party from good to great, the first word in fireworks is fire, and any time an activity involves fire there is always a risk that something can go wrong. That’s why knowing how setting off fireworks can impact your home insurance is important.
How much damage can fireworks do?
The safest way to enjoy a fireworks display is at the local park or town square, where the municipality is taking care of the show, and the liability. When you choose to put on your own fireworks display, it opens up the possibility that the surrounding property (i.e. yours and your neighbours) could be damaged and people could be hurt. In either of these scenarios, you will likely need to make an insurance claim.
Here are a few common accidents that happen as a result of backyard fireworks displays:
- Damage to your own property: If you’re not a fireworks expert there’s a good chance you can make a mistake and an even better chance that those fireworks you’re setting off could cause a fire on your property. This could damage your backyard and amenities including landscaping, structures like a shed or pool house, and it can even hit your home and cause a house fire. Consider reading this for those looking to protect their backyard investments.
- Damage to your neighbour’s property: Everything that we mentioned above that could happen to your own home could also happen to your neighbour’s home as a result of your fireworks display. If just one firework is directed the wrong way, that could be the end of your neighbour’s tree, gazebo, or home.
- Personal injury: Every emergency room doctor or nurse has dozens of stories of backyard fireworks displays gone wrong. According to Steve Munn, E.R. Charge Nurse at Tillsonburg Memorial Hospital, “Every year, Emergency Rooms across the country spend valuable time and resources treating patients with avoidable injuries caused by misuse of fireworks.”
Each of these situations has a high likelihood of resulting in a home insurance claim, so make sure you’re covered and protected from liability if damage needs to be fixed or legal action is taken after any of these scenarios.
Does homeowner’s insurance include fire protection?
In most cases, yes. Homeowner’s insurance protects you from expenses related to damage to your home, property, or belongings caused by unexpected events such as theft and break-ins, vandalism, wind damage, fire, and more.
However, homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover fires that are intentionally set by the policyholder. If there is ever a fire on your property, chances are there’ll be an investigation to ensure you were not involved in intentionally setting the blaze.
How can fireworks impact my home insurance?
If your property, or that of your neighbour, is damaged by fireworks, there’s a good chance you’ll want to file an insurance claim, so the cost of having it repaired or replaced is covered. Similarly, if someone is injured by your backyard fireworks display and takes legal action against you, you will need to look to your insurance provider to protect your financial interests.
In either scenario, a claim is made against your homeowner's insurance policy. Like all insurance policies, the cost of your coverage is largely determined by the level of risk you pose to the insurer. Most of the time, when you make a claim on your policy, your home insurance company will see you as an increased risk, and your premiums will rise.
In short, if there is an accident related to your backyard fireworks and you make an insurance claim to cover the expenses, your premiums will increase and your insurance will become more expensive.
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How can I make my backyard or cottage fireworks display safer?
Fireworks displays can never be completely safe, as you are working with fire and small explosives. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the chance of an accident.
- Keep a hose nearby and make sure it’s turned-on before the show begins. This will help you act quickly if there’s a fire.
- Keep spectators far away from the fireworks.
- Keep fireworks out of reach of children.
- Make sure the person operating the fireworks is experienced and knows what they are doing.
- Do not operate fireworks when intoxicated.
- Make sure there is no dry grass, brush, or trees in close proximity to the fireworks.
- Never point your fireworks towards a person, home, or structure.
- Never set off fireworks in your hand.
The bottom line
Backyard fireworks are an exciting but high-risk activity that have multiple serious potential consequences. To minimize the risk of damage or injury, it’s always recommended to forgo the backyard display and attend a public fireworks display put on by your municipality instead.
If you must host your own fireworks show, contact your insurance provider to ensure you have adequate liability coverage, and be aware of the risks involved.